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Home Event NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio delivers his Seventh State of the City Address

NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio delivers his Seventh State of the City Address

NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio delivers his Seventh State of the City Address

On Thursday, February 6, 2020 within the Museum of Natural History, Mayor Bill DeBlasio presented his seventh 2020 State of the City Address.

Yours truly was fortunate enough to be present at this event and, on this page, you find videos taken as well as the transcript of all which took place at this event.

Video featuring Mayor De Blasio’s speech in its entirety.

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Department of Youth and Community Development Step It up NYC 2019 Dance Champion: P.U.S.H. performing at the 2020 NYC State of the City

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Rabbi Michael S. Miller delivering the invocation

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TRANSCRIPT: MAYOR DE BLASIO PRESENTS 2020 STATE OF THE CITY

Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Yokarina Duarte, NYC Emergency Management: Good afternoon, New York City, and welcome to the State of the City Address.

[Applause]

My name is Yokarina Duarte. And it is my honor to be your emcee today. I am here because I am one of the 71 city employees that have been deployed to Puerto Rico in response to the recent earthquakes.

[Applause]

And within days of the first earthquake, Mayor de Blasio sent an advance team to assess the need on the ground. We were in Guánica when we felt the first earthquake and later that night we were in Penuelas when we felt the second one. We saw the anguish in the eyes of Puerto Ricans every time they felt a tremor. We went to homes that were completely destroyed. But I’m here to tell you that there is hope. City workers have inspected thousands of buildings, assisted with logistics and operations. And mental health teams have been visiting municipalities such as Guyanilla, Penuelas, Ponce, [inaudible], Lajas. And as we did with the response to Hurricane Maria, New York City would not leave until the job is completely done.

[Applause]

So, today, we would like to give a special thank you to all city employees in the City of New York that deployed to Puerto Rico and a special shout out to those the despite the tremors, remain there today, carrying on their mission.

[Applause]

As an employee myself, I can tell you that we’re very lucky to work in such a great city with such dedicated people that really care about the world and do whatever we can to make a difference. And to our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, we have a message for you. New York City has been and always will be with you.

[Director Duarte speaks in Spanish]

[Applause]

And now it is my pleasure to introduce to you PS130’s Children’s Chorus who will be performing the National Anthem. So please rise to receive PS130.

[Applause]

[P.S. 130 Children’s Chorus performs National Anthem]

Thank you P.S. 130. And now, it is my pleasure to welcome Rabbi Michael S. Miller to deliver this year’s invocation.

[Applause]

Rabbi Michael S. Miller: [Inaudible] creator of the world. We ask that you confer your divine blessing on the City of New York, on its people, its elected officials and most particularly on its Mayor, our Mayor, Bill de Blasio. Indeed, what a blessing it is to dwell in a metropolis populated by women, men and children, and from the four corners of your earth and unmatched demographic diversity on the globe representing every race, every faith, every creed, every background. As the prophet Micah in Chapter Four as set in biblical times, they shall sit every person under their vine and under their fig tree. With pride in our neighborhoods New York City is a place, an abode, a sanctuary for everyone, a home, our home. And then the Prophet went on to say, and none shall make them afraid. Lord, we are also blessed under the Mayor’s leadership to be in a city protected by the New York Police Department who’s men and women in blue, sacrifice night and day to keep us safe and secure. But Lord, we know all too well that we live in unsettling times. In an anxious environment with deepening rifts, socially divided and politically polarized across the country. And even here in our beloved city, ominously the scourge of unbridled hate, palpable anti-Semitism threatens us individually and the communal bonds we have labored so hard to build. And people are now afraid their own city is slipping away from them as it changes around them.

Yes, the Torah, the Bible in Leviticus 19 sets out the universal commandment, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Should it not be self-evident that we should seek each other’s wellbeing and embrace one another? But God, you understand human nature. And in the previous verse there’s another commandment. You shall not hate your sibling in your heart. In order to love one another, we first have to expunge animosity from our hearts, our minds, our souls. Hatred has to terminate before love activates. And in several candid conversations with the Mayor, it is clear to me that he has recognized this and to his great credit is meeting the challenge head on. We are grateful to the Mayor for opening an Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, for organizing neighborhood safety coalitions, for developing an anti-bias curriculum and more. As one New York City public school student so aptly said, we’re required to take math. We’re required to take English, but nobody requires us to learn respect.

Yes, respect is a required course. Lord, bestow Mayor Bill de Blasio with the wisdom, fortitude, and foresight to ensure the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy for the City of New York to be a haven of harmony for all who dwell there in.

[Rabbi Miller speaks in Hebrew]

May the maker of peace in the heavens make peace for all of us and let New Yorkers say amen.

[Applause]

Director Duarte: Thank you, Rabbi. And now we would like to welcome the Department of Youth and Community Development, Step It Up New York 2019 Dance Champion. PUSH is recognized by their civic leadership and community service projects in Harlem and across the city. Let’s give a round of applause to PUSH.

[Applause]

[PUSH Dance Group performs]

[Applause]

Come on. New York City, let’s give them a big round of applause.

[Applause]

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the moment I’ve been waiting to perform tonight. It is my pleasure to introduce and welcome the First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray. So, let’s give her a round of applause.

[Applause]

First Lady Chirlane McCray: Welcome to the seventh State of our City address. Since Bill took office, we have made it our mission to ease the burden on working families. All kinds of working families. Bill and I know only too well, how hard it can be. I was a mess after I gave birth the first time. You know what I’m talking about? The umbilical cord had somehow become wrapped around our baby’s neck. And we had to leave her in the hospital, in an incubator for observation. The doctor said she was fine, but I was worried. I was worried. Even though it was a precaution. I was exhausted. I was stressed out. Now when we finally got to bring our baby home, we didn’t have a clue. We placed her on the futon, still all strapped into her baby seat. And we took that photo. And we just looked at her and said, what do we do next? It wasn’t easy. The car seat came with more instructions than the baby.

So, we didn’t have any family living close by. It was just Bill and me. We were kind of on our own. My friend Mirabel, oh, she had a baby around the same time. And she had sisters and cousins and aunties who swooped in and cooked and cleaned and babysat. And you know that saying it takes a village? Well, Mirabel had a huge village. They answered her questions. They brought in love and support at a time that can be really stressful and sometimes painful. And it was really beautiful to hear how they supported each other.

Now I’m not complaining, but I did not have that. And many parents don’t have that. And we are going to change that with new family home visits.

[Applause]

Here’s our commitment. Every first time parent in our city will get access to home visiting services beginning in Brooklyn this year.

[Applause]

Parents will be able to get assistance with breastfeeding and learn how to keep their babies safe. Parents will be assessed for other health needs. They’ll get screened for maternal depression, you know, home visits will lower maternal anxiety. Home visits will help our parents and babies be healthier and happier. You know that expression that I mentioned earlier, it takes a village? Well, if you’re a first time parent, New York City is going to be the village for you and your children.

[Applause]

We’re going to do this for our families, especially for our moms. Why? Because every mother counts. Can you all say that with me? Every mother counts. Every mother counts. Every mother counts. Every mother counts. That’s right, cada madre cuenta. Every grandparent, every caretaker, and every father counts too. I believe my kids have the best dad. What do he say we bring him out here?

[Applause]

All right, everybody. Please welcome the father of my children, my partner in all things, and our Mayor, Bill de Blasio.

[Applause]

Mayor Bill de Blasio: I am always moved when I hear Chirlane talk not just about our children, our family, but when I hear her love for all the children, all the families of this city and how she puts that into action every day. Let’s thank our First Lady.

[Applause]

Brought your cheering section with you there. I want to thank everyone for being here. This is a room full of people who care deeply about New York City, put your heart and soul into our city. I want to thank you for all you do. This is a time we gather each year to take stock and prepare for the future, but it should also be a moment of celebration and appreciation. So do me a favor. Look around you. Look at all the good people. Look at all the people care. Give your neighbor a round of applause.

[Applause]

I want to thank all the wonderful people in the- the kids, the performers, everyone you’ve heard so far today.

[Applause]

And I want to thank at the beginning the public servants who everyday do so much for the city. I’m going to call out Attorney General Tish James, thank you.

[Applause]

Secretary of State, Rossana Rosado, thank you.

[Applause]

State Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli. Thank you.

[Applause]

City Council Speaker Cory Johnson, thank you.

[Applause]

City Comptroller Scott Stringer, thank you.

[Applause]

To all of the members of Congress who are here, the members of the Assembly, the Senate. To our Borough Presidents, let’s thank them. Our District Attorneys, let’s thank them.

[Applause]

A special thank you to my old friend Michael Miller. Thank you very much for your powerful invocation. And, to someone who served New York City – serves us every day, but also served Puerto Rico so powerfully, Yokarina Duarte, thank you so much.

[Applause]

And finally to everyone here at the Museum of Natural History, this is truly one of the greatest places in this city. It is one of the places that makes us proud. I want to thank the President Ellen Futter, all your team, for the amazing work you do.

[Applause]

And this is a place where we really feel the world around us. We’re going to talk about that today, the future of this city, the future of our Earth. But if you ever want to stop and feel it, come right here to this museum. Thank you for being devoted to make sure we are all thinking about the future of this Earth.

Thank you, Ellen.

[Applause]

Another thing we do every year is we get a moment to celebrate some extraordinary public servants who are our first responders in so many different ways and in the program today there’s a list of wonderful people who did amazing things in 2019. I’m only going to give you a few quick examples and then we should clap for all of them after, but first of all from New York City Health and Hospitals, Dr. Yinan Lan, she is a primary care physician at Bellevue that would be enough in the way of great public service, but she further works to help the homeless. She’s a founder – or the founder of the Complex Care Clinic, which brings together all the things homeless folks need to help them and convince them that there is a life off the streets where they can really get what they need. And Dr. Lan has been known to go out unannounced and just give out food and help and be there for homeless people. Dr. Lan, thank you. Please stand. Let us thank you.

[Applause]

From Department of Correction, and this is an example, when you are a first responder and a public servant, it’s not just when the uniforms on and when you’ve punched the clock. Our public servants are 24/7 people. Correction Officer Jahi Semple was on a train, Long Island Railroad train, it’s the middle of Santa Con, always an interesting time of year –

[Laughter]

And unfortunately someone was not in the spirit of the season, was spewing out hateful language and wielding a knife. Officer Semple was off duty that didn’t matter. He leapt to action. He restrained this individual until police could come and effectuate the arrest. Thank you, Officer Semple. Please stand.

[Applause]

He’s out there somewhere. Where are you officer? Oh, there.

[Applause]

As a society, we’re starting to understand that there are no boundaries to who can serve, who can be a first responder, and that means we’re also seeing something that we didn’t use to see, which is a married couple, both of whom are serving us. Firefighter Chris Magas and EMT Patricia Magas. They, again, are the kinds of people give so much every single day. A couple absolutely devoted to public service, but again, it did not end for them when they were off duty. One day going about their business and they hear a commotion next door and it turns out a neighbor’s in danger. In fact, neighbors had a heart attack. This is literally a life and death moment. That neighbor was a retired NYPD sergeant. The Magas’ knew exactly what to do. They jumped into action immediately. They were in the right place at the right time and they saved the life of a fellow first responder.

Let’s thank them.

[Applause]

Wherever you are. There they go. Thank you.

[Applause]

Rabbi Miller spoke powerfully about the challenge we face in recent months with this horrible uptick in hate and anti-Semitism. And one of the most terrifying moments was that night during Hanukkah, a night you should never expect hate to rear its head, when there was an attack in Monsey and the attacker fled. There was a moment of doubt. Was this individual going to get away? Were there others in danger? Well, it turned out the suspect drove down to the city to West 144th street. Our officers had been alerted and we should all count our blessings in this city that two smart, able, quick witted officers immediately did the exact right thing and stopped someone who could have harmed so many others before he could ever get out of his car. Let us thank Officer David Radziwon and Officer Russell Mattera.

[Applause]

Officer’s the words – the word hero gets used too much sometimes, but what you did was heroic. What you did was so important for this city and for everyone out there who wondered if hate could be stopped. You proved it can be stopped in New York City. Thank you.

[Applause]

Finally, the – every story is powerful and moving, but I cannot tell a lie. This one as a New Yorker, this one moved me to my core. Sanitation worker Timothy Moore, a normal day on the job, moving a truck, going over the Verrazzano Bridge. Nothing unusual, until he sees a woman standing by the railing of the bridge, stops his truck immediately, gets out, goes up to her, tries to see if she’s okay, tries to make sure that nothing wrong is happening. The woman resists, confronts him. Starts swinging at him. This dear friends is a quote from our good Sanitation worker Timothy Moore. He said to her, “if you want to fight, that’s okay, but you are not jumping off this bridge.”

[Applause]

Let’s thank Timothy Moore.

[Applause]

I left out the punchline. He held her until police officers came, saved her life. Thank you Timothy Moore, well done, brother.

[Applause]

So, let me state the obvious here. This is not your typical State of the City. It looks different, obviously, it’s a different approach because it’s time to have a different kind of dialogue. Typically, a State of the City is a laundry list of accomplishments. Typically there is a very set script. Usually, a State of the City does not occur next to a 94-foot whale.

[Laughter]

I’ve checked the facts. It’s very rare. And honestly, usually State of the City or State of anything is a lot of its happy talk. A lot of its euphemism. And I really felt at this moment after six years on this job, working with so many of you in every neighborhood of the city, I felt it was time for something different. It’s time to be blunt about what’s going on in this city. It was time for some real talk.

[Applause]

I am going to say for balance, and I feel this is my heart, there’s plenty of good news. There’s plenty of good news and it’s not minor stuff. It’s real stuff. We have arguably the strongest economy we’ve ever had. We’re a global economic power. We have added half a million new jobs in the last six years.

[Applause]

And thanks to so many people in this room, we are the safest big city in America and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

[Applause]

But honestly, we know those things. We don’t need to repeat those things and get deep into that. What we need to talk about is what I hear about every town hall meeting I go to, every conversation I have, more and more turns to the same problem and I have to say, and Rabbi Miller mentioned this there, there is a particular fear out there. A particular anxiety, and the way I say it is people are afraid that New York City won’t be New York City anymore. They’re afraid that our heart and soul could slip away. I feel this anxiety everywhere I go and when my people are anxious, I’m anxious too. When my people are worried. I’m worried too. We have to come to grips with the fact that this is a different kind of problem. We’ve literally never experienced before on this scale, with this intensity.

Years ago I talked about needing to make sure this was a city for everyone and it felt like if we did a lot of the right things, that things would come together, we would make it work, but we are facing challenges. We are facing forces that we’ve never, ever experienced with this kind of intensity before. Now you could easily make a parallel to what the city went through in the ‘60’s, in the ‘70’s, in the ‘80’s, when people were leaving in droves, when there was plenty of fear and anxiety, when people felt they had to go. But today, here’s what’s strange, no one wants to leave but they are being forced out or they haven’t been displaced yet, it’s a constant fear. We used to worry about crime all the time. All the time. It was an obsession because it was so real. But the challenge now is not crime. The challenge now is greed. Greed afflicting all of us. Greed that would take away this city from its own people.

Our challenge, our enemy in this struggle, it’s an economic one. It’s not that we have to fear street thugs. It’s that we have to fear bad landlords. That’s the reality. It’s a different city with a different dynamic and we have to come to grips with it. I’m going to ask all of you for what you’ve experienced. In your own neighborhood, is there a cherished small business, a mom and pop store that you have seen close that you wish was still there? Raise your hand. Okay. Just so we can get the power of what’s happening out. Everyone say the name of that store you missed. Just say it out loud all at once. Say the name of that store you miss. Louder.

[Cross talk]

Everyone – everyone has their own example. How many of you have gone by one of those signs at a building site, advertising a condo for $2 million or $3 million or $4 million or $5 million and it has been disgusting to you? Raise your hand if you have had that experience, if you have felt that is not meant for me and my family or anyone I know. How many of you fear that this generation of your family might be the last generation to be able to afford to live in New York City, right? That’s what’s really going on, right? And we have to confront it.

And I want to be clear, you can talk about an affordability crisis, but that doesn’t even capture the depth of it. We’ve been talking about an affordability crisis for years and we thought the tools we would apply would work and they’ve had an effect, but I got to tell you more and more, this feels like one of those diseases that becomes resistant to antibiotics. Where you apply the medicine and it works less and less.

We honestly believed, we put forward first to affordable housing plan, the biggest in the history of city 200,000 apartments. The need was so great we made it 300,000 apartments and it’s not enough. We passed the strongest legislation in the country, I want to thank the City Council, mandatory inclusionary housing, requiring developers to create affordable housing if they got a permit to build. The strongest in the country. It’s not enough. We did two rent freezes. They had never been done in the history of New York City, it reached millions of people. Not enough. We gave free lawyers to stop evictions and they have. We went to Albany, fought for the $15 minimum wage so people have more money in their pockets. They got it. We went to Albany, fought for stronger rent laws to protect – protect our tenants. We got it. You’d think if you did all those things, the problem might be solved, but here’s what’s clear, we have to go a lot farther. We have to go a lot farther.

Today, I’m presenting to you something very different. This is a plan to save our city. And I thought long and hard about whether those words were called for, but I am convinced they are. We need a plan to save our city because that’s where we are right now. We’re at a point where we have to be saved. This city and everything, it stands for must be saved. And we are the ones who have to save ourselves. We have to save ourselves from the forces of greed. We have to save ourselves from laws that no longer serve us. And by the way, because we’re in this place, we have to save ourselves from an existential threat facing New York City and facing everywhere in the world. So, this is a plan to take us forward. Are you ready to help us save our city?

[Applause]

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

The notion of this plan is to return this city to you, because this is your city.

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

You know that classic song, this land is your land? That is what we used to feel about New York City. We need to feel it again. We need to know this is our place. Every one of us, every kind of New Yorker, which means we need to do things we have never done before. It means we need to think differently, we need to act differently, and we need to dream differently. We need to envision changes that for so long had been off the table. Now state the obvious, doing these things won’t be easy. Anything worth doing comes with opposition. Some of these ideas will come with a whole lot of opposition, but do not mistake what I’m saying as a reason for people to be fearful, a reason for people to shrink away from the challenge. This is not a time to fear. This is a time to fight. And New Yorkers know how to fight, right?

[Applause]

We have two years of urgent work ahead of us. And I want it to be very clear, this is a very ambitious agenda. It’s going to take a lot of work. I’m going to devote myself for these two years to getting all of these things done and I need your help. Everyone in this room, I need your help to make these changes. And I say that with a sense of urgency, but I also say it with a sense of hope. The good news for me after six years of working with all of you is seeing that, in fact, a lot of things can change. A lot of things we were told would never be achieved, have been achieved. I remember vividly – over these last six years, I remember it all very clearly. I remember all the voices that said it was impossible to give pre-K to every one of our children. And we proved them wrong, didn’t we?

[Applause]

I remember when we were fighting for paid sick leave and we were told the economy would crash and we’d lose jobs, but we proved them wrong, didn’t we?

[Applause]

And Lord knows, I remember when we said that a broken and unconstitutional and discriminatory policy of stop and frisk had to end. I heard so many voices say it would lead to crime and chaos and take us back in time. Brothers and sisters, we proved those doubters wrong. We proved that we could continue to become a safer and safer city.

[Applause]

That fairness and safety could walk hand in hand, we did that. So, we have to remember that whatever you attempt to do, if it’s different, people will try to talk you out of it. People will always try and talk you out of your own power, but we have proven, all of us, what we are capable of. And now, it’s time to once again take up the challenge. It’s time to go farther. It’s time to take ideas that will work for this moment in history. And those ideas, by the way, came from so many of you – so many people who spoke up a town hall meetings, so many folks who came to City Hall or I met on a street corner and said something needs to be different. Today, we’re going to talk about five strategies to save the city we love. And these strategies came, in so many cases, from the people from the neighborhoods – they’re going to make a huge difference for us.

To start, I want to talk about our young people, because we do need to save our young people. We do need to save our young people.

[Applause]

We need to do it to keep our cities safe, but we also need to do it because our young people are dealing with challenges we could not have imagined when we were growing up. And we owe it to them to embrace them and to help them forward in an ever more complex society. This video will give you one part of the story.

[Video plays]

[Applause]

David Caba – you saw him in this video. He works with the Cure Violence organization B.R.A.G. and Good Shepherd Services, and we’re going to brag on them in a minute.

[Applause]

I met David a few weeks ago at a meeting and he said something that just gripped me immediately. He said, when he was growing up in the 70s that kids had to band together for their own protection as young as second grade and that he went through a lot of tough times, a lot of things that might have discouraged someone, but that he found the resolve in him to believe that it did not have to be that way. So, that school you saw on the video – that school used to be place where at the end of school gang recruiters would be right outside, right outside the school waiting for the kids. They were going to intimidate them, bully them, recruit them. But that block in front of the school belonged to the gangs and David Caba said, we need to change that. And one day he put himself right in front of that school and started telling those gang members to back off. And he could speak to them as someone who had been through his own experiences, had lived that same life. And David Caba stood in front of that school, and then, one day, a second person stood with him and a third person stood with him another day, and a fourth person, and a fifth person, and not so long after that, that block belong to the people again and not the gangs.

Let’s thank David Caba. Where are you, David?

[Applause]

There you go. David is an amazing example of the Cure Violence movement. Everyone from the Cure Violence movement, if you’re here, stand up. Anyone in Cure Violence? Where are you? Thank you. Thank you.

[Applause]

Neighborhood people standing up against crime, reaching out to our young people, offering them a better way. I want to be clear how powerful this is. Neighborhood people making a difference in their own neighborhoods. We have people all over the city, helping to address violence and reach our young people. We have the finest police force anywhere on the earth.

[Applause]

What does that mean? It means we are never going back to those days where violence and crime gripped this city. We are never going back. But what’s so powerful is, today we understand that one of the best ways to secure our future is to connect with our young people, to communicate with them, to figure out what they need to hear them. Our young people do not need to be policed. They need to be reached.

[Applause]

And don’t misunderstand that sentence. I believe in what the NYPD does every day, but this is about getting to that young person before they ever might commit a crime. This is about going to the root cause. And for years in the time of stop and frisk, our young people were treated like they were the problem. What did that broken policy of stop and frisk do? It degraded our young men and women of color. It treated them like they were criminals. It took away their value. But here’s the beautiful thing, the NYPD today is doing the polar opposite. The NYPD today has announced a new youth strategy, focusing the most powerful and effective police force anywhere on the globe on the work of healing, communicating, inspiring our young people to never even think of a life of crime, but only believe in themselves.

[Applause]

So, here’s what we’re going to do. That youth strategy – that means over 300 officers will be Youth Coordination Officers. Imagine this, they have that uniform on, they have that badge, they have that gun – that’s true – and what are they thinking about every day? They’re thinking about how to reach young people who might be teetering on that edge, how to help a family that is struggling but doesn’t know where to turn, how to make sure if a kid is starting to get in trouble, that is stops right there, using all the power and intellect of the NYPD to move our young people in the right direction, stopping crime before it even happens. I want to say – and this is a reason I’m very proud of this man – this was from the heart and soul of Dermot Shea. Thank you, Commissioner Shea. Thank you to NYPD.

[Applause]

So, that’s the first point. The second point, community centers – we need more places that are safe and positive for our young people. I have heard this at town hall meetings all over this city. So, dozens and dozens of our parks, recreation centers, we’re going to open them up more hours, more days, and for young adults we’re are going to make their memberships free so they can go there and have that safe place to be.

[Applause]

Turns out we have six community centers in NYCHA and the Parks Department that are sitting there dormant, that had been shuttered. We’ve got to open them up for our young people. We will.

[Applause]

Wherever I’ve gone, I’ve had people say our community doesn’t have a place for young people. And so, we looked around the city where some of the need is greatest, where there are not those youth centers, and we’re going to build seven new ones in Soundview, in Tremont, in the Bronx; Coney Island, Bushwick, in Brooklyn; Queens Village and Astoria, in Queens; and the South Shore of Staten Island.

[Applause]

At town hall meetings, people said to me with exasperation, our schools don’t have a stop sign next to them where the kids are coming to school. There’s not a stop light, there’s not a stop sign. How are we going to protect our kids if we don’t even have the basics? Today, we announce that every school in New York City that doesn’t have a stop light or a stop sign is about to get one – 1,000 new stop signs, stop lights, speed bumps for our schools and neighborhoods that need them.

[Applause]

And everyone knows – and we’re talking about safety – we’re talking about young people, but we’re also talking about Vision Zero, because one of the things that’s changed this city is making Vision Zero just as much of a part of the conversation of safety, as everything we talked about and we talked about policing. NYPD has been right there with this every step of the way. And now, we announce a new Vision Zero unit within the NYPD – over a hundred officers that will make sure our streets are safer for our pedestrians, our cyclists, and our motorists alike.

[Applause]

So, I will say to you, this is an example, even with the challenges we face, even with the things that we’re going to have to overcome, there’s so much to appreciate in how far we’ve come as a city, how much safer we are, and how this city is now creating new strategies that will make us safer for the long haul and reach our young people in ways we never did before. All of that, a decade, two decades ago, if you had talked about these kinds of things, people would have laughed you out of the room. But now, we’ve proven that we can do amazing things in this city. And I’m going to give you another example. I remember – and it pained me for years and years – all of the nasty things, the really discouraging things people used to say about New York City public schools. There were things said about our public schools, about our kids, about our teachers for decades that suggested nothing but failure, nowhere to go, no chance of ever getting better. It was never true then and it’s much less true now. And we’re going to prove that all those naysayers were wrong. Take a look at this.

[Video plays]

So, what looks true to you?

[Applause]

Raise your hand if those images you saw towards the end are the New York City public schools that you know in love. Right? That’s the truth. I had an experience in the first year I was mayor – everyone knows we put everything we had into starting pre-K and everyone knows that it was by the skin of our teeth that we actually got it up and running by that September. And I remember one of the first classrooms I went to with Chancellor Farina, we were reading to kids in this classroom. We were reading the book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar – a childhood favorite. And the kids were totally into it, they were calling out the numbers and the animals and the colors and everything was going great, except this one kid in the back just would not engage, didn’t seem to care in the least. So, we finished reading the story, lots of media where there are lots of people are paying attention, you know, it felt good. But I was really bugged that this one kid just didn’t seem to care, and I’m about to leave, and the kid shoots up his hand. I’m like, okay, let’s see what you got. So, this is, remember, The Very Hungry Caterpillar about a caterpillar who turns into a butterfly, that’s what the book is about. So, I call on this kid and he looks at me very seriously and he says, metamorphosis.

[Laughter]

I have this on video. I am not making this up. And he is with us here today – William Alemany, P.S. 239. Where are you, William? Stand up. There you go, right there.

[Applause]

Wave your hand, William. Wave your hand. Still at P.S. 239 now. His teacher’s here – his teacher is here too? All right, thank you for all you do.

[Applause]

So, William, I haven’t seen you since that day, but I want to tell you something, I have used that story about a thousand times, because if our pre-K children can say metamorphosis, then New York City public schools can’t do anything.

[Applause]

And our job has to be to create schools as exceptional as our children – as simple a mission, as clear a mission as that.

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

Our schools should be as good as our children. They can be, they must be. Now, remember, our schools, once upon a time, they were just assumed by so many to never have potential, to never be able to change and get better. They were put down. They were left for dead. But we have proven with the vision of Equity and Excellence that schools can get better and they can get better quickly, and now we’ve got a lot more to do. So, it begins even before a child gets to school. You know, Chirlane talked about the power of new Family Home Visits, what it means for the parents. But I tell you what means for the kids – it means that it helps their brain development to have parents who are getting that support. The studies prove that these new Family Home Visits help children develop more quickly before they ever walk in a classroom. So then, let’s go to not just pre-K but 3-K. They said pre-K couldn’t be done. No one saw 3-K coming. But now, I’m proud to tell you, in September, it’ll be in four more districts – District 12 in the Bronx; District 29, Southeast Queens; District 1 in Chinatown, Lower East Side, and East Village; District 14 in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. As of September, we will be in half of all the school districts in this city with 3-K and more to come.

Third grade literacy – this is something you’re going to hear a lot more from Chancellor Carranza and I in the next few weeks, because this is a story that’s not being told. We’re going to get our kids reading more and more on grade level by third grade. It’s one of the great indicators of academic potential and success. We are going to do that, and already for the first time in New York City history, there are hundreds of reading coaches in our schools right this minute, helping teachers to get better, helping kids to get better. Some of them may be here today. Let’s thank those reading coaches for all they’re doing.

[Applause]

Dermot and Richard are sitting next to each other, so, Dermot, you’re not going to be upset if Richard borrows from CompStat a little here, borrows something that’s worked so well to make the city safer. We’re now going to start EduStat – every school is going to get the kind of support it needs and we’re going to know what school needs what, because we’re going to be paying attention with the same exact strategies that made us safer. You two, go get dinner together and he’ll explain it.

[Laughter]

Now, it’s not just about academics, it’s about heart and soul, it’s about hope, it’s about potential. So, let’s be clear, our children need role models. They don’t just need textbooks, they need role models. We have already hired a thousand more men of color teachers. We’re going to do a thousand more on top of that.

[Applause]

Finally, I’m going to say something that if you think this indicates that somehow, I mistakenly believe marijuana is already illegal in New York State – thank you, Julia – someone got it.

[Laughter]

You may think that what I’m saying here can’t possibly be true, but, in fact, year by year the graduation rate in New York City is climbing, because there’s so many good people in this room. Year by year, we’re getting stronger and stronger. The day is coming in the next few years when the City of New York will surpass the graduation rate for the United States of America. Let’s thank our educators for making that possible.

[Applause]

So, now I want to talk to you about the third area, and this is about the lives we live and how we feel our communities, our neighborhoods. And we know our public schools are one of the things that defines our neighborhoods, but something else that really sets the character that really makes us feel the place we are is our small businesses, right? Our mom and pop stores that we love, that represent our community, that really are part of what makes it so special and we have to save them. We have to devote ourselves to doing things we’ve never done before to protect small businesses that are under more danger than they’ve ever been in the history of this city.

Look at this video.

[Video plays]

So, a few weeks ago I opened up the paper in the morning and I read about this bar in Woodhaven, Queens. I’d heard about it a little bit before but I didn’t realize it was 190-years old. I’m reading this article, I’m not going to lie to you for a second – I read it, I felt pain. How on earth could 190-year-old pillar of the Woodhaven community, how on earth could that be in danger? But the article said it was going to close in two days. And I am going to tell you I went through the whole cycle of feeling, anger, and then trying to think what could we do? And then thinking oh, they’ve only got two days, it’s probably too late. And I got to a point of a little bit of resignation.

An hour or two later, I was on WNYC and a call comes in from the owner of Neir’s, and he says that even though he’s only got two days left, that this – this is part of a community that people love it, that generation after generation have cherished it and he’s trying with all his heart and soul to find a way to save it. And I heard that he was willing to fight and it made me willing to fight. We called Loy in the hours after that, our Small Business Services team immediately connected with him, found a way to get him resources, found a way to get him help. Thank you to the Queens Chamber of Commerce. Thank you to the elected officials. Everyone did something you could not imagine in a matter of hours, Neir’s as was saved. Let’s thank Loy for all he does for the Woodhaven community.

[Applause]

That night, I thought it was important to sample his products to be able – I just felt I needed to give it firsthand account of what the bar meant the community. It would have been rude not to. So we had a celebration. It was beautiful. It was every kind of New Yorker and people told me the stories. So that was 190-year-old bar, beloved by the community, this close to going down. You know how many weren’t saved in time? You know how many are teetering on the edge right now? There is a study in this city that says there are 12,000 vacant storefronts right now. I mean, think about that number. I want to ask people here in this room – have you gone down a block in your neighborhood and it looks like you almost can’t recognize it because there’s so many closed storefronts? Who has had that experience? Right? Look on my hands go up. Something is happening. It is happening so fast, it’s almost been impossible to make sense of it, but now we know 12,000 vacant storefronts by one cut, but imagine – imagine for a moment, what if that was two-times that many? What of those three-times that many? What would that mean for our neighborhoods? So, we have to do some very different things to address this challenge.

First, when we came into office I said we would cut small business fines. I want to thank the City Council, they’ve been right there with us. We have cut business fines by 40 percent since the beginning. We’re going to cut them again. We’re going to put $6 million back into the pockets of small business.

[Applause]

I hear all the time from small business owners how hard it is to make sense of the City bureaucracy. We’re starting a navigator’s program. If you own a business and you’re starting a business, there’s somewhere to turn where a human being will actually help you get the things you need from government, keep your small business going.

[Applause]

This next one is crucial – too small to fail. Let’s turn the equation on its head. The country did backflips to save big banks. Why don’t we do everything we can do to save small businesses?

[Applause]

That means we’re going to give them lawyers to help them negotiate with landlords. That’s what a lot of small business that are asking for. That means we’re going to give them low interest loans because a lot of them can’t get capital any place else. That means we’re going to work to pass legislation for full disclosure of everything that’s in their lease and everything that might cost them money because a lot of times they don’t get that whole story from the landlord. We need to pass that legislation as part of this initiative, but we got to do more. Our pension funds are there to support the future of our retirees, but we can do a lot more with that money at the same time. I’m calling for us to commit half-a-billion dollars in pension fund money to local small businesses in New York City. Let’s invest in them.

[Applause]

Let’s go to Albany and deal with something that’s driving me personally crazy and a lot of you as well. You’ve seen a storefront that’s vacant for two years, three years. Guess what? If a landlord leaves that storefront vacant, hurts the community, makes the community less whole, deprives someone from having that storefront so they can be part of our community, then that landlord needs to pay more in taxes. They need to pay if they’re going to do that to us.

[Applause]

And this last one, I am going to be scrupulously honest. For years and years, I’ve heard different proposals around commercial rent control and I have not for one day been able to find one that I thought was legal. That’s the truth. As appealing as the idea is, I couldn’t find one that’s legal. But I think the time has come to settle this once and for all because we – at this point in our history – we may need this to be able to save our small businesses. So, I will name a commission. Just like Speaker Johnson and I named a fantastic Commission on Property Tax with extraordinarily talented people, I’m going to name a commission of people of different viewpoints and different expertise to come back to us once and for all this year with an answer, is there a legal way we can have commercial rent control in New York City? That is the answer we need, and, if it’s a yes, we should go to Albany and get it done in 2021.

[Applause]

So, when you think of our neighborhoods, then you think about the most obvious question the world can you afford to stay in your neighborhood? You love it. It’s part of who you are. Will it still be part of who you are? How on earth do you afford to stay in the place you love? Look at this video.

[Video plays]

So, Chirlane’s right. It’s not possible for so many people right now. I do want to note when I was in that story and she was in Flatbush, that’s what you call a long distance romance. But the fact is, we were starting out. We got together, we wanted to have a family. We took it for granted we could find a place to live in New York City and for the generation coming up now, they just can’t feel that anymore. And we got to change that, we can’t have a city where its own people feel it’s not going to be theirs in the future. And we – I said we tried all these things that we thought would be the difference makers, but the world around us has changed very rapidly and it’s time to do some very, very different things. We’re going to keep this a city for everyone. So, first, we have to reform our property tax system. It’s not fair. It’s not transparent, it’s not equal. It’s time to change it.

[Applause]

For folks who unfortunately are not even able to conceive of a place to live, folks who are homeless on our streets, we have to commit ourselves to the journey home plan that I announced in December and I want to be clear, this is way out on a limb, but it’s what we have to do. We have to end homelessness as we know it in New York City.

[Applause]

And we truly believe for the first time ever because of HOME-STAT, because of an initiative that’s reaching people like never before that we can end this horrible phenomenon of a person who’s on the streets for one year, two years, five years. We can end that once and for all. Are you all ready to be a part of that? Because we can do it.

[Applause]

Our housing authority has gone through extraordinary challenges, 40 years of disinvestment from the federal government, but we are starting to turn it around $6 billion investment by the City of New York. 62,000 apartments that will be fully rehabbed as well their buildings. It will not be easy, but we can turn things around piece by piece for 400,000 New Yorkers who live in NYCHA. We have to do that.

[Applause]

And then this phrase is a new phrase, and it’s a new idea and it’s a new approach, Your Home NYC, this will now be the umbrella for all of the affordable housing policies that we put into play. You’re going to see this now all over New York City. It’s going to be an indicator of everything your city is doing to keep this place affordable for you and we’re going to be changing some of the elements of our affordable housing program. One of the things I’ve heard most from people all over the city is that we need affordable housing to reach people with lower incomes, people who are struggling in this city.

[Applause]

So to start, 25 percent – from this day on, 25 percent of all new apartments will be guaranteed – at least 25 percent will be guaranteed for families that make under $30,000, and we will keep growing from there.

[Applause]

But even more important than the new apartments is preserving apartments in place for struggling New Yorkers, working New Yorkers – preservation, subsidizing apartments so working people can stay in them. This is the single best tool we have to fight all the problems we’re seeing with gentrification and rising prices. When we preserve an apartment, it means that family can stay there for decades and pay only 30 percent of their income in rent, whatever their income is. In the next two years we will reach 78,000 more New Yorkers. We will keep them in their apartments and they will be able to afford those apartments. That is what your home will be all about.

Here’s a new idea. How would you like to rent an apartment and not have to pay a security deposit? Raise your hand if that sounds like the right thing. Right now, under the law you only have one option, you have to pay upfront. We’re going to work with our colleagues in Albany, in New York City to first give you an option that instead of a single payment, you can pay in installments and lighten that burden, because there’s so many New Yorkers who just can’t get an apartment because they can’t put together the money for the deposit. But second, there’s a legal way to do this. Imagine if you only paid a little bit each month for all the time you were tenant, so you never had to shell out a big chunk of money. There’s a law that could give you that right and you could say goodbye to security deposits.

[Applause]

The next one, we have to go to Albany and get this done. There are 900,000 apartments in the city, have no protection. Millions of new Yorkers, no protection against rent gouging. The landlord can jack up the rent as much as they want for no reason whatsoever. That’s one of the reasons so many people can’t in this town. We want New Yorkers, all New Yorkers, even if you’re not currently in a rent regulated apartment, we want you to have protections. We want you to be able to have a rent that you can actually pay and we want to make sure that you can renew your lease and not just be thrown out for some arbitrary reason. We need universal renter protection.

[Applause]

Finally, this is another new direction we need to go in. People are desperately concerned about things being privatized around us. I understand that. I hear all the people saying, can we find ways to keep affordable housing in the hands of the people? Can we make sure that things don’t get privatized? One of the most promising ideas is community land trusts.

[Applause]

So, I’m announcing today, this will now be the policy of the City of New York. We’re going to start with 3,000 New York families who will get affordable housing through community land trusts and we can expand that to tens of thousands of other families in the coming years.

[Applause]

I said before, this land is your land – community land trusts guarantee that this land will always be controlled by the people. So, we’re going to take on this affordability crisis. And I’ve said, it’s bigger than we even imagined. We’re going to take it on. But the last thing I want to talk about today, and I’m sorry to have to say it this way, but it’s true – it’s an even greater crisis and it goes far beyond the boundaries of New York City – is the existential threat to all of us, but those who feel it more deeply, those who are scared in their hearts, in their souls are our children.

Look at this.

[Video plays]

[Applause]

That last sentence from Rebeca, all that’s on our mind is what’s to come. Imagine that – imagine, because for all us who didn’t grow up with this threat, imagine it looming over you every day of your life. It’s the only thing you’ve ever known. That’s what our kids are going through. So, I got asked, as did the Chancellor, what were we going to do about the idea that our kids might walk out of school one day? Not something we took lightly at all, but we had to think about this through a prism we’ve never had to consider before. This is about survival. This is about their futures. We will not be here for all that they will experience. So, the more I thought about it, the clearer it got. This was not about our kids trying to take a day away from us. It came down to this for me – if we didn’t give them that right to stand up for their own futures, we’d be taking something away from them.

[Applause]

Last year, we introduced the New York City Green New Deal. We worked with the Council on the strongest law on this earth to retrofit our buildings to stop emissions. This city has been taking step after step aggressively to protect us against climate change, to do our share. Cities all around the country are doing the same. But you know what? Again, it is not enough. We now have to devote ourselves to something much more difficult. We have to be ready to commit ourselves to strand those fossil fuels in the earth, in the ground once and forever where they belong. They will only endanger us and our future.

[Applause]

It is difficult to wrap your mind around a world without oil and gas. We’ve all grown up with it. But brothers and sisters, if we don’t get away from oil and gas, there won’t be a world for our children and grandchildren, and we are one of the leaders on this earth. We have to show by our own actions what can change and must change, and that we will prove in our time these changes can be made, and we will save this earth for our children and grandchildren.

[Applause]

Rebeca is going to help me out here. The first thing we have to do is end the use of plastic bottles. We’re not going to buy anymore. The City of New York is going to stop buying them. We’re not going to allow them on City property anymore. They are made of fossil fuels. They are hurting the earth. We don’t need them. Time to get rid of them.

[Applause]

It’s good to meet you, Rebeca. Thank you for all – let’s thank Rebeca for all she’s been doing.

[Applause]

Rebeca, this is for you and all of your classmates. This is one step, getting rid of the plastic bottles all over the City of New York.

[Mayor de Blasio signs executive order]

The executive order is signed.

[Applause]

Next, we can’t just talk about change, we have to do it, we have to lead. And so, what we’re going to do today is give an order. Every City car, every City truck, every City bus, every City ferry will be converted to electric power.

[Applause]

Why look, Rebeca’s back.

[Laughter]

Rebeca, I’m going to tell you that this is going to be something that happens so quickly, that starting this September, City school buses, some of our City school buses will be electric for the first time.

[Mayor de Blasio signs executive order]

[Applause]

Thank you, Rebeca. You say you wanted to get involved, well –

[Laughter]

We are leaders on this earth. Are you proud as New Yorkers to be leaders on this earth?

[Applause]

Always showing the way to a fairer society, a better society. So, Governor’s Island is going to be the place, the place in this country, one of the places on this earth that will lead the way. Governor’s Island was the very first part of New York City to grow in its modern form. It will now be the place that leads the world in the innovations, in the research, in the activism to address global warming. That will happen right here in New York Harbor.

[Applause]

We also believe, since we are the center of so much innovation and entrepreneurship, that we should lead the way in the new emerging wind industry. So, we are going to invest $57 million in the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal to make it these staging area for the development of wind power off New York.

[Applause]

And, by the way, for any people who say, and they have every right to ask the question, what happens to people in those old fossil fuel jobs? We don’t want to hurt the people who do the work. We don’t want to hurt hardworking New Yorkers, hardworking Americans. We want to give them new jobs in renewable energy that will help us to the future.

[Applause]

Next, we’re going to double the use of solar power here in sunny New York City. 50,000 New York homes will get solar power on their roof. We’re going to have a person you call – a human being who will help you to get solar on your roof and you will not have to pay upfront costs. The City of New York will make sure that solar gets to you so that you can have a green future.

[Applause]

We are going to fuel all of the electricity needed by the City government and a lot more in this city, not with fossil fuels, with hydro-power. We will make a deal this year to bring hydro power to New York City.

[Applause]

Patterned after that extraordinary retrofit law for our big buildings, we’re going to take the next step. For largest buildings in New York City, we will work with the Council on a ban ending the use – over the next two decades, ending the use of oil and gas in our buildings, replacing it with clean electricity.

[Applause]

And finally, I know for a lot of us, and I was one of them, it was hard to take in the notion that we were just going to cancel everything that we’ve depended on for fossil fuels. It kind of doesn’t make sense when you first hear it, but it’s something we have to do to survive. If we don’t break this addiction to fossil fuels, it will break us. We have to overcome it. And so, I’m announcing an executive order to end the creation of fossil fuel infrastructure in New York City once and for all.

[Applause]

See, Tish, Rebeca’s learning this for when she’s Mayor one day.

[Mayor de Blasio signs executive order]

[Applause]

There you have it. Let’s say goodbye to fossil fuels in the City.

[Applause]

Thank you, Rebeca. So, we’ve got to act in a different way. We have to overcome the status quo that’s been handed to us. Everything today that I’ve talked to you about is about thinking differently and, I said, dreaming differently, being ready to do things. She has been a community activist every day since.

[Applause]

Stand up, Julia. Stand up.

[Applause]

Julia has gone through many struggles, but she doesn’t stop fighting. But when I saw her with Chirlane a few weeks ago, I wanted to visit her and support her as she’s dealing with challenges. First thing she said in the door is, we’ve been fighting together for the 99 percent for a long time and we’re still fighting today. We’re still trying. We’re still trying. Her spirit is the one we need to understand. We don’t stop even when the odds are tough. And this is what ultimately gives me hope, is that I will have the honor of being in this fight with all of you. And I know what you can do. I know what New Yorkers can do.

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

We’re together in this fight as New Yorkers. We’ve proven what we can do time and time again. We’ve proven it for the last six years. We’ve got a lot more to do. I can tell you I’m very moved by what we’ve achieved together. I’m moved that we got pre-K for every one of our children, but I’m not satisfied. I won’t be satisfied until we have the best public school system in the United States of America.

[Applause]

I’m proud of all of us that we got rid of a broken policy of stop and frisk, but that’s just the beginning. I won’t be satisfied until we stop crime before it even happens by reaching every one of our young people. And all of us together create a lot more fairness for millions of New Yorkers, but I will not be satisfied until we change the rules of the game altogether.

[Applause]

It will never be easy, but it can be done if we fight like our City depends on it, if we fight like our neighborhoods depend on it, if we fight like our lives depend on it, we can make that difference. We can use our power, our collective power. We can dream differently.

Now, when you walk out this door, you can actually set your watch by this, within a few minutes, you will start to hear people say to you this is impossible. Here’s a blueprint – choose your favorite item and someone will start to tell you it’s impossible. They’ll say it’s crazy. They’ll say it’s too much. They’ll say it will kill jobs. They’ll say it will ruin the economy. They’ve said it so many times before, they were wrong every single time. If we had listened to those naysayers, we would have still – we’d still have stop and frisk today. If we listen to those naysayers, we would not have paid sick days for a million more New Yorkers. If we listened to those naysayers, we would never have tried to do pre-K, let alone 3-K. So, we have to remember who we are.  We are New Yorkers. We do extraordinary things all the time, don’t we?

[Applause]

So, let’s do something extraordinary again. Let’s not just bend the status quo, let’s break it. Let’s break it and create a city that really is for everyone and will be for generations to come.

Let’s go save our city. Thank you.

[Applause]

 

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